So you want to make a difference, but need trust or grant funding to get your project off the ground. A good place to start is with one or more of the many funding organisations, of which the Big Lottery is perhaps the most well-known. There are a wide range of trust and similar funders, from the small to the large; and all will consider suitable applications for funding.
But is it as easy as it appears?
Sadly, seeking trust or grant funding generally requires more than a well-written letter. Even those organisations who have no formal application process, and who will accept written requests, have criteria that must be met before an application is considered. To complicate matters, some funders, albeit a minority, do not make their criteria particularly clear; and your fundraiser may need to delve deeper before you can proceed.
How then should a charity go about securing funding for a new project?
The first consideration is to know what it is you are planning to do. What are the project’s objectives, who are the beneficiaries, what are the expected outcomes, and how will they be achieved? With such essential information your fundraiser will then be able to check that the project meets the criteria of the most suitable funders.
These eligibility criteria are crucial. Most funders will have rules on who, what, where and how much of their money can be spent. So you will need to check the criteria against things like the profile of your beneficiaries, your project’s objectives, what you intend to do; and the geographical region in which you intend to do it. If anything falls outside of the funder’s criteria then your application will not succeed.
The next crucial step is to have evidence of need. No funding organisation will hand out money without some certainty that what you intend to do will make a difference. So you will need to provide your fundraiser with data to show that the project is needed.
Simply knowing your project is necessary is just not enough. You may have to provide evidence taken from surveys, evaluations of other projects or activities, feedback from beneficiaries, volunteers, project workers, partner organisations and official statistics. It might even be necessary to run a small-scale pilot project. You will also have to show what expected outcomes will be achieved for the project’s beneficiaries and for any volunteers who are involved.
After having the evidence that your project is needed, the next requirement is to demonstrate that you can actually run the project. This means having a realistic budget, details of what will be done, where, when and by whom, and showing that you have a good track record of delivering successful projects. This might include setting out the skills, expertise and knowledge of your trustees and key staff.
Many funders will also wish to know how your beneficiaries participate in your organisational structures, particularly in relation to the project’s development, monitoring and evaluation.
It is also possible they may want to know what official national or local strategies that the project helps to deliver against; and details of any partner organisations with whom you are working.
If all this sounds complicated, and you do not have the capacity for such fundraising in-house, then using a consultant fundraiser is perhaps your best option. If you choose this route then look for someone who is a member of the Institute of Fundraisers as they will not only be experienced, but also be aware of the various regulations regarding fundraising.
Clearly, securing funding for a new project is not as straightforward as it might at first appear, but don’t let this fact put you off. The funders themselves are often happy to answer questions about your application; and with the necessary data and details, you have every reason to be hopeful.